Monday, February 25, 2013

middle age

I never got my PhD in physics.  I stopped at a M.S.  I do not mean this to complain.  It was my choice to leave grad school at the age of 39 and enter the job market.  I left my studies, knowing that academia, at least in physics, views an M.S. as an incomplete PhD.  But despite that,  I have had a fulfilling career ever since, and I have no regrets.  Until…

…until I found out that one of the 1st year undergraduates that was enrolled in my university physics course 11 years ago, is soon to get his PhD in mathematical physics.   I remember him.  He was an unbelievably sharp kid.  I knew he would go far.

But my former student has now attained a level that I will, in all likelihood never attain.  He has reached a goal that I will never reach. 

I had a dream last night.  I rarely remember dreams anymore, but I remember this one.  I dreamt that I was back in my old University at a department pizza social.  All the young freshmen from my 11 years old class were there, and none had aged a single day.  They all asked if I was there as the new professor.  No, I replied, I was just there for pizza, and to cheer them on for their dissertation defenses.

I think it is no coincidence that today is my birthday.  I am 49 years old today.  Well into middle age.  I am not consciously thinking about aging, but it somehow snuck into my dreams last night.  

I realize how trite, immature and selfish this sounds.  I realize that I have a wonderful and fulfilling life.  I realize that I am rich beyond my wildest imagination.  I have no right to think such pitiful thoughts.  But there they are - I am a mere human weakling after all.  I think that this is a mood that will only last through today.  After all, I swore to myself a long time ago that I would never let myself sink into a mid-life crisis.

Lift a glass.  Here’s looking forward to tomorrow!


unklee said...

Your comments here remind me of one of my favourite quotes (face it, one of my only quotes!), by TS Eliot from The Hollow Men:

"Between the idea and the reality .... falls the shadow."

I don't think any of it sounds immature, but human. We all look back, wonder if, regret, feel thankful, etc, a whole grab bag of mixed emotions.

DoOrDoNot said...

Happy belated birthday to you. It's fascinating to see how the unconscious works. It's clear you not only have s rich life but also recognize it. However that doesn't preclude you from also desiring and imagining other possibilities. That's part of this time of life. I find my mind in that place too sometimes.

... Zoe ~ said...

Okay, wait a minute . . . I missed your birthday. I'm way behind in my reading. Happy Belated!

Nothing immature or selfish about it. I think if you try to avoid a mid-life crisis you'll be sure to have one. Go with the flow. Why should you get through life without one? *grin*

I'm lifting my cup of tea. Cheers!